Norwich City's urgent quest to find themselves a bright, new, shiny owner this autumn could all-too easily lead them into some seriously shark-infested waters as the English professional game becomes ever more a billionaire's playground.
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Anil Ambani and Xu Rongmao found themselves this weekend linked to the takeovers of Liverpool, Everton and Newcastle United respectively.
Sheik Maktoum has previously concentrated his vast oil-based wealth on horse racing; the arrival of the Abu Dhabi ruling family at Manchester City this month has – according to reports on Merseyside – merely fuelled the interest of the rival Dubai clan in ousting Anfield's current American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jnr, and giving Eastlands' new owners a real run for their own oil money.
Across Stanley Park and it is Indian billionaire Ambani to whom embattled Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is now turning after admitting to the club's shareholders at an Emergency General Meeting this summer that he would “sell tomorrow” after finding himself all spent out in his bid to keep David Moyes in players and wages.
Meanwhile back in the crisis-hit North-East, the decision by Newcastle United's under-fire owner Mike Ashley to put the Magpies up for sale after being advised by police to stay away from St James' Park on Saturday for the safety of both himself and his family has found Chinese property billionaire Rongmao linked to a bid – complete with a return of Kevin Keegan to the managerial helm.
For the Canaries, sat some 18 places away from such Premiership fun and games after Saturday's opening win of the new season away at Plymouth Argyle, events at Anfield, Goodison Park and St James' are of real relevance.
Because as foreign investment pours into the top flight of the English game like never before, so the more canny investor is looking for geater value outside the already bloated Premiership; it is why QPR found themselves embraced by Formula One's movers and shakers last season. As well, of course, as Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
It is why Marcus Evans came a-courting Ipswich Town; why would-be Liverpool owner Steve Morgan found a new interest in Wolves.
All relatively well-run clubs with a strong, local fan-base – no, big fat Mark Viduka-like contracts to honour; no large-scale fan protests threatening to break down the doors of the boardroom.
What, however, will be of concern to the next level of millionaire that the Smiths might be currently a-courting as they look for someone of Peter Cullum's ilk to take the Canaries forward – as well as filling in that awkward, little ?1.5 million hole in City's 2008-2009 finances left by the Turners departure – is the noises that both Kenwright and Ashley have been making of late.
How for someone with a mere ?100 million-odd in the bank, the level of investment required to sustain any real challenge in the top half of the Premiership is beyond even their means. That having pumped the better part of ?250 million into St James' over the last 16 months, just what has Ashley got back for his money – other than the bitter resentment of the better part of Tyneside?
In decaring his intention to now sell the club in an open letter to supporters published yesterday, there was line that ought to have struck a big, big chord in this neck of the woods following Norwich's own, ten-month long flirtation with Towergate billionaire Cullum following the promise by the UK's 40th richest man to pump ?20 million into Glenn Roeder's transfer kitty. For control of the club.
It was the same figure that Ashley planned to spend on Tyneside every year.
“I was always prepared to bank roll Newcastle up to the tune of ?20 million per year, but no more,” Ashley told supporters.
“That was my bargain. I would make the club solvent. I would make it a going concern.
“I would pour up to ?20 million a year into the club and not expect anything back. It has to be realised that if I put ?100 million into the club year in year out then it would not be too long before I was cleaned out and a debt-ridden Newcastle United would find itself in the position that faced Leeds United.”
He could not – and would not – buy a Robinho on an eleventh-hour, transfer deadline day whim.
“The truth is that Newcastle could not sustain buying the Shevchenkos, Robinhos or the Berbatovs. These are recognised European footballers. They have played in the European leagues and everyone knows about them. They can be brilliant signings.
“But everybody knows that they are brilliant and so they, and players like them, cost more than ?30 million to buy before you even take into account agent commissions and the multi-million pound wage deals. My plan and my strategy for Newcastle is different….”
Buy young, unseen Spanish players on the cheap, flog James Milner to the first bidder and stall on Michael Owen's new contract would be the Toon Army's retort, but Ashley – in fairness – does have a point. At what point does any multi-millioanire say enough is enough? I'll go this far, but no further… That and what, exactly, does ?20 million get you these days?
In Norwich's case, a possible ticket to the Premiership a la Hull or a Stoke… and then?
It is a point that West End theatre impressario Kenwright has long reached. He can't go on.
Hence Everton's hope that Ambani's interest is genuine.
Reported to be the sixth richest person in the world with a $42 billion fortune on the back of his Reliance Group interests, one report claimed that Ambani would be Kenwright's guest of honour at Thursday's Uefa Cup tie against Standard Liege.
But Kenwright wants out. He can't compete.
?I do not want to be here next year,” he told the club's EGM last month. “I do not want to be standing in front of you saying: 'It's been another tough season…' and 'I don't know where the money is…'. I would sell tomorrow.?
All of which has echoes of Delia Smith's comments to last year's Norwich City AGM; a speech she may yet have to repeat at this year's gathering of shareholders if the current search for a financial star doesn't yield fruit.
It clearly needs to. Because among the many other points that this weekend's comfortable away win at Plymouth might have proved was the fact that if Norwich's possible potential was to be realised this season, that ?1.5 million shortfall has to be met.
And that if both John Kennedy and Antoine Sibierski return to their full-time employers come January, so two new pieces in Roeder's much-vaunted jig-saw will need to be found.